Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka made a detailed presentation to the UNP Working Committee this morning on the current status of the bribery and corruption investigations.
Ratnayaka, in his presentation said, the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division had forwarded 92 files to the Attorney General’s Department upon completion of investigations. He added that indictments have only been filed with regard to 13 cases.
The Law and Order Minister said the CID had investigated 38 cases out of which 14 deal with individuals and 24 relate to property matters. Out of the 14 which deals with high profile individuals only 6 had been indicted.
“I am not blaming the Attorney General’s Department. I know they are handicapped due to shortage of officials. Only a handful of officials are geared to deliver results. We have to understand every aspect of this problem. It’s not fair to blame the UNP for these practical problems.”
“These cases are not held up by the UNP. Our party had no such intention. But there can be other elements trying to block investigations. For example, Sajin Vaas Gunawardena’s case was investigated and sent to the AG’s Department. We didn’t even know what happened after that,” Ratnayaka said, giving a strong response to the President’s accusation that the UNP was blocking investigations.
“Investigations into the cases of Thajudeen, Eknaligoda and Lasantha Wickrematunge reached final stages. But the final pieces of evidence are hidden in some state bodoies,” Ratnayaka said, indicating that the military was behind the covering up perpetrators.
In fact, President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Minister of Defence, went on record saying that no hero would be prosecuted for crimes during his tenure.
Deputy Minister Ajith P Perera, at that point, hit out strongly against the military’s conduct when it came to crimes involving members of the Army.
Perera said those covering up evidence and those supporting the culprits should be exposed to the public. Perera’s statement too was directed at the President due to the latter’s remarks on protecting war heroes at any cost.
The UNP Working Committee then proposed to hold a press conference to clear the air on the matter and explain the party’s position.
Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale at this point intervened and said holding a press conference might set the party on a collision course with the Attorney General’s Department.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe responded to the Justice Minister with a snide remark saying, “If we don’t make the public aware of this, all of us will have to go home.”
As a result of Ratnayaka’s presentation, the UNP Working Committee decided to pass a resolution endorsing the budget proposal to set up a High Court that would deal with bribery and corruption investigations.
It also called for the appointment of a Prosecutor General to expedite cases of corruption.
A committee comprising Sagala Ratnayaka and Thalatha Athukorale was appointed to brief the party Working Committee on a monthly basis on the progress of investigations while a five-member committee comprising Ajith P Perera, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Nissanka Nanayakkara and Asendra Siriwardena was appointed to assist them.